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Turkey, Russia blames West for migrant crisis

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos

1Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin both point the finger at Europe and the United States for what has now become one of the biggest mass migrations of people in modern times.”To be honest, the whole Western world is to be blamed in my opinion on this issue,” Erdogan told CNN on Thursday. Putin, talking to reporters Friday, said it’s the West’s wrong-headed foreign policy in the Middle East and Northern Africa that’s at the root of the crisis.The image of 2-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body, face down in the surf of a Turkish beach, rocketed around the world. He died along with his 4-year-old brother and mother — three of several thousand refugees and migrants who have perished while trying to find safety in Europe.Europe’s response so far has been disjointed and divided, prompting nations to scramble for a cohesive response. The crisis will be front-and-center when EU foreign ministers meet at an informal gathering in Luxembourg on Friday. The nations will send their home ministers for emergency talks in Brussels on September 14.

2Russia is interested in both foreign and domestic investment, especially in the country’s Far East region, President Vladimir Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum on Friday.Making an appeal to countries from the Asia-Pacific region, Putin said his government will increase efforts to develop Russia’s Far East.”(We) will provide to investors the best conditions to do business so the Far East of Russia can successfully compete in terms of efficiency and return on capital with leading business centers,” Putin told the conference in Vladivostok. He added that the country’s largest oil firm, Rosneft , will invest 1.3 trillion roubles ($19.56 billion) in projects in the region.

3Misrepresenting Azerbaijan. “Over the last several years, the Republic of Azerbaijan, widely acknowledged and praised for its commitment and pursuit of religious tolerance, has become a target of harsh criticism by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIF). Apparently, somewhat confused about its mandate, the commission issues statements about political issues, which have nothing to with religion and religious freedom, refers to places within Azerbaijan by Armenian names revealing, inadvertently perhaps, its sources of information. Also, in its criticism of the country it follows the lines used frequently by the Iranian mullahs. Sadly, this reflects both the apparent personal bias and the lack of expertise and first-hand knowledge by the commission’s staff” Maayan Jaffe- The Washington Times.

4Azerbaijan: Is It Time to Consider Sanctions? “Some regional experts want the United States and European Union to consider imposing economic and political penalties on Azerbaijan to put pressure on Baku to respect basic individual freedoms. The sentencing of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence on September 1 should be seen as a tipping point in relations between the United States and European Union and Azerbaijan, some rights advocates contend. Ismayilova was convicted on criminal charges of embezzlement, abuse of power and illegal business practices. Her supporters contend the case against her was fabricated to stop her investigations into the corrupt practices of top Azerbaijani officials and their family members” Giorgi Lomsadze- Eurasianet.

5Rocky economy tests friendship of Putin and Xi. “Mr. Putin has enjoyed basking in the stature of Mr. Xi, who leads one of the world’s largest economies. But with the recent stock market turmoil in China and the slowest economic growth in a quarter-century, Beijing will be unable to provide the ballast that Mr. Putin has sought against economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States after its annexation of Crimea, not to mention plummeting oil prices worldwide. “Russia was dependent on China growing and driving the demand for its commodities: oil, gas and minerals,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “China was an alternative to Europe.” JANE PERLEZ and NEIL MacFARQUHAR- The New York Times.

6Saudi King Salman will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday to seek more support in countering Iran, as the Obama administration aims to use the visit to shore up relations after a period of tensions. The visit is the king’s first to the United States since ascending to the throne in January, and comes after the United States agreed to a nuclear deal with Iran in July, raising Gulf Arab fears that the lifting of sanctions on Iran would enable it to pursue destabilising policies in the Middle East. Despite the tensions, the two countries depend on each other on crucial security, business, and economic issues. Saudi Arabia remains the world’s largest oil exporter, and its commitment to pumping oil freely despite a recent price decline has helped contribute to sustaining the U.S. economic recovery. Obama and Salman will discuss global energy markets during the visit, the White House said.

7Russia is condemning itself to repeat history. “Russia, flexing old imperial muscles, now sees history as a weapon in the neo-imperialist armory. Not for the present regime the muddled forays into the dark — Soviet — past. Unlike the government of President Boris Yeltsin, which came to power through the ruins of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin needs the past to be scrubbed clean of all possible embarrassments. The Soviet period — in which the working class lad he was rose to be a lieutenant colonel in the KGB — is seen again, with some regrettable lapses, as a period of heroism and global power” John Lloyd- Reuters.

8Azerbaijan`s Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov has met with British Ambassador to the country Irfan Siddiq. The sides discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as exchanged views over military and political situation in the region, military cooperation between the two countries and regional security. They also discussed issues related to Minister Zakir Hasanov`s upcoming visit to Great Britain, AzerTac state news agency reported.

9Mr. Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department visited Kazakhstan on September 2–4, for meetings with the authorities and other stakeholders. At the conclusion of his visit, Mr. Ahmed made the following statement: “Like other countries in the region, Kazakhstan has been hit by large external shocks (oil prices, Russia and China slowdown). Against the backdrop of these shocks, economic growth has decelerated sharply and financial conditions have tightened. As a result, the growth outlook has weakened. However, I was impressed by the authorities’ determination to put in place the policies needed to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability”

10The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany Ralf Andreas Brett, who presented his credentials. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues of cooperation, given the priorities of the state development of the two countries. It was earlier reported that the trade turnover between Turkmenistan and Germany has increased by 11 percent in recent years. Over 60 business entities with German share have opened their branches and representative offices in Turkmenistan.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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UN launches global plan to strengthen protection of internally displaced persons

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With multiple crises forcing millions of people away from their homes, United Nations agencies, Governments and partners have launched a set of measures to strengthen protection of internally displaced persons as well as find solutions to address their problems.

“Addressing the protection needs of the forcibly displaced and seeking solutions to their plight contribute to greater stability for countries and whole regions,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in a news release announcing the three-year Plan of Action.

The consequences of our failure to resolve internal displacement can be devastating,” he stressed.

The framework, formally called the Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for Internally Displaced People (2018-2020), calls on all relevant actors to step up efforts to prevent, respond to and resolve internal displacement.

It also proposes concrete activities to strengthen the participation of internally displaced persons in decisions concerning them, and expand national laws and policies on internal displacement as well as actions to improve data collection and analysis on displacements globally.

By the end of 2016, more than 40 million people were displaced within their own countries due to insecurity or rights violations. An additional 24 million were driven from their homes due to disasters. Every year, an estimated 15 million people are also displaced by development projects.

Bold and ambitious steps needed

Given this complex conundrum, “bold and ambitious” steps are needed, underscored Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

“The Plan of Action seeks to galvanize a strategic dialogue, concerted action and adequate resources to address the plight of the internally displaced, while engaging them in the decisions that affect them,” added the independent expert.

In the same vein, Mark Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs committed that the Organization will continue to work with affected Governments and displaced persons to ensure that their needs are addressed.

Leave no one behind

“The international community has pledged to leave no one behind,” stressed Mr. Lowcock, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, noting that this promise must extend to all those displaced.

The Plan of Action was drafted under the leadership of the Special Rapporteur, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Its launch coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, widely accepted as being the global standard for protecting and assisting internally displaced people.

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UN Environment designates Chinese idol Wang Junkai as National Goodwill Ambassador

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Singer and Actor Wang Junkai, or Karry Wang, best known for his leading role in the box office blockbuster film Miracles of the Namiya General Store and the hit single “KarryOn” was designated as UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador today in a ceremony in Beijing.

In his role as goodwill ambassador, Wang will connect with China’s youth on some of the most urgent
environment issues of their generation, including pollution, air quality, wildlife protection, ecosystems, and more.

As a young actor and singer, I greatly appreciate UN Environment giving me this opportunity to be National Goodwill Ambassador. We youth have the responsibility to protect our environment and secure our future, and I am looking forward to learn from and work with the UN family on key environmental issues. Youth are no longer merely onlookers when it comes to environmental action, nor should they be. I will spare no effort to do everything I can to take care of our earth, and I invite everyone to join me in generating a wave of positive action.

It’s inspiring to hear a strong and determined voice of Chinese youth on environmental issues. When young people set their mind to change, incredible things can be accomplished,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. “We’re very excited to work with Wang Junkai to create even more awareness about environmental issues and, more importantly, the solutions to these challenges.”

The 18-year old performer is a superstar of the highest ranks in Asia. Known for his leading role in the film Namiya General Store, top roles in various TV series – among which “Finding Soul” and “Qingyun Zhi “ – and solo music career, he has amassed more than 40 million followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Both in China and the rest of South-East Asia, Wang has been one of the leaders of the online conversation on the environment.

In 2016, Wang widely shared the #wildforlife Campaign, reaching 400 million viewers. A year later, he publicly spoke out on the urgent need to protect endangered wildlife, naming them the “superstars of the planet.”

Beyond drawing attention to wildlife, he called upon his followers to pledge to reduce their e-waste, with the hashtag #beatpollution. Within 24 hours, his post was retweeted by 1.67 million times and more than 400,000 followers signed the pledges.

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New Solar Project to Restore Electricity to Over One Million Yemenis

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The World Bank announced today a new project to finance off-grid solar systems in Yemen to power vital basic services, and improve access to electricity for vulnerable Yemenis in rural and outlying urban areas.

Funded by a US$50 million grant from IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries, the new project will rely on the commercial solar market, which has grown despite the conflict, providing further support to the local economy and creating jobs.

Solar power has proved to be the most immediate solution for severe energy shortages in Yemen. A booming solar industry has developed driven by the private sector, but the costs have put the technology beyond the reach of public facilities and the most vulnerable populations.

The Yemen Emergency Electricity Access Project will work with the current solar supply chain and the existing network of microfinance institutions, to finance and deliver off-grid solar systems to rural and peri-urban areas. The aim is to restore or improve access to electricity to 1.4 million people, around half of them women. The project will also fund solar power for critical infrastructure, such hospitals, schools, water corporations, and rural electricity providers.

The lack of electricity in Yemen has had a devastating impact on Yemenis and the provision of services,” said Dr. Asad Alam, World Bank Group Country Director for Yemen, Egypt, and Djibouti. “While responding to immediate need, the project will contribute to building a more inclusive and sustainable solar market in Yemen through targeted financing to the private sector which will expand its reach to the poor and vulnerable.

The project will be implemented in partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and in collaboration with the local private sector, including Micro Finance Institutions, solar equipment suppliers and technicians. Working with the Yemeni private sector will help create hundreds of jobs.

Investing in solar will make Yemen’s electricity more resilient, reduce the dependence on fuels for critical service facilities, and create jobs in the private sector,” said Joern Torsten Huenteler, World Bank Energy Specialist and Task Team Leader of the project, “What Yemenis need today more than ever is a quick and innovative energy solutions to help ease the crisis.

With this new financing, IDA emergency grants to Yemen issued since July 2016 have totaled US$1.183 billion.

These projects have been prepared – and are being implemented – in partnership with Yemeni institutions and UN organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the United Nations Office for Project Services.

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